Regardless of the age of your dog, it is likely there are one or more behaviors you may wish to curb, at least a little bit. Perhaps it’s rushing the door when opened, jumping on visitors, stealing the cat’s food or lunging at other dogs when on a walk. Every dog is different. Regardless of breed, each dog has had its own life of varied experiences that help him decide, whether consciously, or otherwise, just how to act or react in any given situation.
Personally, I believe you can educate a dog at any age. Just like with us humans, the more ingrained a particular habit or pattern, the longer it may take to unlearn it, but it can be done! There are all different forms of training. I have found that within each school of thought lives a still varied understanding and approach. No two people are exactly alike, so no two trainers will be exactly alike. Not only in personality, but also in natural instincts and learned philosophies.
Along with positive reinforcement techniques, the basis of my training approach is energy and communication, which to me, go hand in hand. Without saying a word we are communicating, not only to our companion animals, but to other animals and people around us. Those we know, as well as strangers on the street. We all impact each other. To effectively and truly “train” a dog, we must also “train” ourselves. It is unfair and not at all compassionate to expect our animal friends to change, while we don’t have to. If your dog has a “bad habit,” you may unknowingly be contributing to the problem. You must be willing to change your behavior, if you expect your dog to change his. You must confront yourself, your own insecurities and beliefs and identify the energy you are projecting, if you want training to encourage the changing of a behavior long term.
My dog, Ginger who sadly passed away earlier this year, was and is, one of my greatest teachers in life. She was both intuitive and intelligent. She loved food, praise, playtime and affection, so training her new skills and behaviors was relatively easy in most cases. She was a fast and eager learner! The problem came when I began to slack off on the part I was to play. Here’s an example. When helping her with the learning process of not charging out the door, she responded well and learned to sit and wait until I left first. However! After a while I became inconsistent. I allowed her to walk out first. She, of course resorted back to her previously learned skill of walking out in front of me due to my laziness and non-commitment to one sole choice. Her response could be seen as, “Oh… we’re not doing that other thing anymore. Okay?! No problem! I can be flexible too!”
When we are not consistent, we give unclear, mixed messages. This can leave your dog confused and potentially frustrated. And in the case of my Ginger, a dog that doesn’t consistently use her newly learned behavior. When you aren’t consistent, you will, understandably, be less likely to end up with the desired behavior, as a result. Our inconsistency can interfere with our animal friends knowing exactly what role they are supposed to play. To be effective leaders, pet parents, teachers or however you want to term yourself in relation to your dog, we must take responsibility for ourselves, our actions and our energy. What are we bringing to the table? Are we afraid, anxious, stressed, angry or otherwise disturbed? This can and will effect your communication and your relationship with your companion animals.
This should not be incorrectly interpreted as meaning that you can not have your emotions or that you need to be in a constant state of relaxed bliss to have a pet! Life includes a wide array of emotions and experiences. Let yourself have them! When it comes to working to help train specific behaviors you need to be aware of your energy. If you are going through a tough time and having difficulty being at least somewhat calm and neutral, it may be best to take some time out for yourself. Our emotions are communications from our body that are essential for us to pay attention to. It’s like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. Look at yourself, take care of yourself and after you are rested and rejuvenated and feel more at ease, then consider revisiting your training sessions. When you feel ready to enjoy some playtime and learning with your dog, go for it! It’s never to late for them or us to change the game!
If you are interested in learning more about Sindi’s compassionate, effective, energy and reality based training approach, contact her at 619-797-0705 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There are other trainers that Sindi recommends for one-on-one training and classes, as well. When you contact Sindi, she will happily provide additional referrals depending on your individual situation and needs.
P.S. Sindi can help with your cat training needs, as well as other animal behavior assistance. Just ask! If she can’t help herself, she most likely knows someone that can! Sindi’s priority is to help animals and their people. She is here for you! 619-797-0705